We live in a post-Christian America. To some, it would seem that the “good ol’ days” of Christian values have been tossed out the window of progressivism. Timothy Keller wrote this booklet, How to Reach the West Again. He communicates the problem while giving the answer by looking at what we can learn from the early church in how it reached its culture.
Keller, as usual, writes in a way that is convicting but not demeaning of Christians today. This short read is something that I would encourage every believer to read. We live in a culture where there seems to be a mass exodus of leaving blue states to go to red states or withdrawing from culture. The question that needs to be asked is how can we best share the gospel in our country that is less Christian? Today we can find more and more people who have never stepped foot in a church. We find more and more that have no understanding of God and his law (the ten commandments). More and more many look subjectively at what is right and wrong.
Keller points out that the gospel we know needs to be shared will need to be lived out. It is something that will take time as believers build relationships with nonbelievers. It is going to take intentionality as we pursue relationships in pointing to God’s grace and mercy. Believers need to be faithful in life and integrity in public spheres, it is going to require us not to withdraw from culture but to live in it and be different.
Faithful in Life
Keller gives the example of how God told Jeremiah and the Israelites in Babylonian captivity about being part of the culture. God tells Israel to seek the peace of the city—plant gardens, build houses, and seek its prosperity (Jeremiah 29). Keller writes, “we can still serve people, be good neighbors, and be involved in culture while being faithful and open about our Christianity.”
In reading this, I was challenged with something that was taught to me. It was that the thought that Christians should be the best in every sector of life. They should be the best artist, creators, musicians, educators, and leaders. Keller writes, “[The] expansive vision for Christian influence in every area of human life, not because Christians are dominant there, but because they are faithful there.” By believers being faithful servants to public witness. The church needs to be a place to help train and e what it looks like to live out our Christian beliefs in the workplace.
In it for the Long Haul
The early church knew and understood that the gospel changes us. They also knew that it was a marathon more than a sprint. It would take time. It would take work. Therefore, their commitment was until the Lord took them home.
Today, Christians must look at the road ahead for them in reaching the west again as a commitment that will take time and work just like the early church. Being faithful and not frustrated. Being willing to spend time and being humble. Reflecting Jesus and dying to self. It all matters.
If you get a chance to get a copy of How To Reach The West Again I hope you can spend some time thinking through what Keller presents.